Wednesday, June 29, 2011


For the past few summers, every single morning beginning at 4:30 a.m., a cardinal perches in the topmost branches of the apple tree in our backyard and sings his freakin' heart out for two hours straight. This tree is right outside our bedroom windows. Every morning at 4:30 a.m.when those dulcet tones pierce my slumber, I stagger out of bed to slam the windows shut. To completely drown the bugger out, I have to turn on a sound machine, too. I keep the sound machine on the nightstand right next to my head so it's loud enough to cover up that cheerful sunrise melody.

We find ourselves wondering just how long the life span of a male cardinal might be. I mean, really. He shows up in mid-May and stays until mid-August for three or four summers in a row now. Love him. It has to be the same bird. I pray it's the same bird. I am hoping he is getting old and feeble now.

We try to have a sense of humor about him. Last year I tracked down a cardinal cross stitch pattern and whipped up this little fellow for my husband, adding the cheeky "Good Morning!" at the bottom to be sure he got the joke. Right now the cross stitch is perched over our fireplace. It cracks me up.

Other morning goodies:
Oatmeal! Thanks to a discussion with some online friends, I am now on an old-fashioned oats kick, no cooking involved. Put 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats in a bowl. Add a smidge of brown sugar and a sprinkle of frozen blueberries. Pour on enough milk to cover the oats. Let sit for 10 minutes. Eat. Perfect!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Photo Project

Last year I tried a 365 project on Flickr but stopped after 100 photos. My enthusiasm flagged when I got tired of having to upload photos every day from my camera onto my computer, then post them onto Flickr. It got tedious and time-consuming, and many days I felt like the photos I had weren't really worthy.

I do, however, still like the idea of a simple chronicle of a daily photo. Earlier this month I got a new phone. Not the iPhone I've long coveted (see this post here), but a phone my son insists is even better: an HTC Evo. It has a camera, and uploading photos from it onto Flickr is ridiculously easy. I find myself thinking a 365 deal may be doable after all. The photos won't be wonderful works of art, but they will be a chronicle, and as I am already feeling that now is a time of transition for my family, a photo diary of life from this summer solstice to next summer solstice might be an interesting thing for me to keep. Watch it evolve on Flickr if you care to (a link to my Flickr account is on the side bar). Hopefully I will keep it up!

Art and Other Things

Before my children were even school-aged (lo, those many years ago), I bought two Pocketful of Memories books from Hearthsong. The books have nine envelopes spiral-bound together, one envelope each for kindergarten to grade 8. The outside of each envelope has a place to write memories and attach the child's photo.

It's been a tradition at the end of each school year for the children to fill out their envelopes, and for me to sort through all the paperwork and choose what to store in the envelope. Report cards always go in the envelopes, as do some photos, participation certificates, ribbons, and the like. This is one thing I am SO glad I started right at kindergarten, and that we've kept up every year. The kids enjoy filling in their information and reading back on years past. My son's book is now complete. I'll have to come up with a similar plan for his high school things!

My daughter brought home all her art work for the year. This is her family crest:
Notice how her shield is in the shape of an open book! She decorated it with things that are important to her: her violin, a baseball, chocolate, and her cat.

She also made this beautiful clay tile:
I love her impressionistic field of flowers behind the tree.

Finally, she made a mask this year. My son also made one in 5th grade. It is a plaster mold of her own face, which she painted to look like the ocean.
All of the fifth-graders' masks decorated the hallway of the school during their promotion ceremony, and after the ceremony the parents were instructed to find their child's mask and take it home. Looking at the masks in profile down the hallway, my daughter's was immediately recognizable to me.
That is definitely her sweet face!

Budget cuts and all that fun stuff have made art in middle school almost an impossibility. The middle schoolers are limited to two electives every year, and if you take music and a foreign language, that eats up your electives. Gym class is squeezed into 6th grade by alternating it every other day with music. She might get to take art for one quarter in 7th grade, but it's not a given. Art has always been one of her favorite things about school, so if she really wants to keep it up, we will have to look at the art classes offered by various art centers in town (which is much less convenient than if she could just do it at school!).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekend Food

In honor of Father's Day today, I made bread pudding for breakfast. It's very much like French Toast Casserole, but easier to make and lighter to eat. I followed Angry Chicken's recipe, using Trader Joe's frozen mixed berries, and served it with powdered sugar sprinkled on individual servings. So yummy!

This year we are splitting a CSA share with my sister-in-law and her family. Every Saturday we head to the Farmer's Market to pick up the week's distribution.
So far it has been very heavy on the lettuce and bitter greens. I do like a good salad, but I am the only person in my house who will eat it, so it's been salad three times a day for the past few weeks. The lettuce has been so plentiful that even the half share we get is too much for me. I am happy to be splitting the plentiful share of leafy greens, but other things like the full quart of strawberries and the 8 spears of asparagus seem stingy when split between our two houses. So far it's a fun experiment, and I am eager to see how this progresses through the summer and fall. We will get five full months of produce, June through October.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nine Years Ago

In August 2002, my son started kindergarten. That was almost 9 years ago. For nine school years, I have walked one or both of my children to the same elementary school every morning, and gone back to walk them home again at the end of the day. For nine school years I have been a room parent, volunteered in the classroom, baked countless batches of cookies for parties or bake sales, and chaperoned field trips.

Nine years ago when my son started kindergarten, he was 5. My daughter was 2 (and still in diapers). I was 35. So was my husband. My mother-and-father-in-law were still alive. My little niece, the same age as my daughter, had not yet been diagnosed with cancer and was still alive. September 11 had been less than one year before.

Now it is nine years later, and the last day of school. My daughter has promoted from 5th grade. She is moving on to middle school. My son is moving on to high school. For nine years, I have defined myself as an elementary school mom, but I am not an elementary school mom any more.

Nine years has been a lifetime, gone by in the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Present for a baby

The woman who babysits my little niece and nephews is expecting a baby of her own any day now. She has always liked the pocket pillows I made for my niece and nephew, so what could I do but make one for her baby?

Dolly pattern from Annie Oakleaves.

(P.S. I changed my settings to make my blog format better on mobile devices. Let me know if anything looks wonky!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 1 Yard--It Looks Like Summer!

I bought this hanging basket of flowers but forgot to water it!
Fortunately it revived after a good drink. Now it's part of my morning routine to get out there and water it.

Compare the yard to

This project is making me realize just how much of our year is cold and dreary! So we must make the most of summer while it is here.